Review: Breach of Contract by J.R. Gray

Breach Of Contract (Bound #2)Breach Of Contract by J.R. Gray

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

A copy of this book was provided by the author for an honest review.

This review may contain spoilers for LEGALLY BOUND, the first book in J.R. Gray’s Bound series. You could try to read BREACH OF CONTRACT as a standalone, but I wouldn’t recommend it.

BREACH OF CONTRACT continues the story begun in LEGALLY BOUND, a book I thoroughly enjoyed earlier this year after following the author on Twitter. (Full disclosure: I follow a ridiculous amount of romance and erotica writers on Twitter and they sometimes follow me back, but that doesn’t mean I enjoy or even accept every book they might have available for review.) LEGALLY BOUND introduced its readers to an underground BDSM community in contemporary Chicago populated by high-ranking politicians, law enforcement officials, and other prominent citizens concerned about their private kink becoming public fodder. As sole owner of the exclusive club where only the finest kinksters come out to play, George Siris is the unofficial ruler of this small but highly influential world. But even as he enjoys all the superficial benefits of such a position, his heart remains locked away, his true desire for any other person suppressed for as long as anyone can remember.

When Daniel Caplin found himself emotionally involved with Rafael Argon, the client he was defending against a police vendetta in LEGALLY BOUND, it was Daniel’s wisecracking legal partner Jesse Goldmen who was the voice of reason even though his own personal life was an even bigger mess. Now that Daniel and Rafael are in love and living together as a D/s couple in BREACH OF CONTRACT, Jesse finds himself jealous of what the two men have together. He’d thought himself immune to such feelings after years spent in a loveless marriage, yet when George offers a chance for him to escape, it isn’t only Jesse who’ll discover love in the unlikeliest of places. But when the vulnerable clientele of George’s club are suddenly threatened by a blackmailer bent on destruction, no one will be safe from what might happen next.

“You will learn to use that mouth of yours for good as well as evil.”

As much as I loved the unconventional romance between Daniel and Rafael in LEGALLY BOUND, I was even more enthralled by the thrilling emotional dance between George and Jesse in BREACH OF CONTRACT. The previous book had only teased at what might happen between them and it was that promise that made me so impatient to read their story. Here we eventually see that what the sarcastic joker and self-possessed Master have in common is a rejection of love purely as as an act of self-preservation, and that the trust required from them both still might not be enough to win their own happy ending together. For as Jesse slowly leaves his comfort zone to pursue what will either be the best or worst decision of his life, George must also contend with someone trying to destroy his club and the people he cares about the most. This added suspense provides the story’s overall driving element without overwhelming its romantic aspects or dulling the intensity of the various interactions between its primary characters. And even as a self-professed lover of epilogues, I can assure readers that the one here is both compelling and essential.

From its riveting start to its slam-bang finish, BREACH OF CONTRACT more than fulfills the promise of LEGALLY BOUND and has me just as greedy for the next story as I was for this one. If you’re looking for erotic M/M romance with strong suspense elements in a BDSM setting, I highly recommend both books in this intriguing series.

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Review by Sharon: Dare to Surrender by Carly Phillips

Dare to Surrender (Dare to Love, #3)Dare to Surrender by Carly Phillips

Sharon’s rating: 3 of 5 stars

A copy of this book was provided by the publisher for an honest review.

As a preface to this review, I have to say that I haven’t read any of the other Invitation to Eden novels. That said, I did enjoyed this novel without having to know who the other characters were. Gabe and Isabelle steamed up the pages together. It was a really enjoyable book, yet somewhat predictable.

Isabelle is on the run from her crappy fiance, Lance, and through a series of unfortunate (or fortunate in Gabe’s case) events lands in the lap of Gabriel Dare who has desired her for a while. She’s out of options and he gives her a way out. She takes it and the sparks fly between them. But, suddenly, Isabelle feels like she needs to make it on her own. She strikes back out into the world and without the help of Gabe, she finds her place. In the end, their reconciliation is oh so sweet. Gabe and Isabelle reunite and it is a wonder why they ever parted. I love happy endings in romance books and this one ends on a delightful note.

Although I’m happy to have read this book, there were several problems I had along the way.

Jumping from first person to third depending on the chapter: All the Isabelle chapters are in first person. All the rest are in third. It was jarring for me sometimes. I also don’t care for first person storytelling but that is just a personal opinion.

Too much telling and not showing: Gabe’s sister, Lucy, comes into their lives and all of a sudden she and Isabelle are BFFs. In my opinion, there just wasn’t enough interaction between the two of them to warrant this kind of friendship.

Time jumps: They happen in the story. Sometimes they’re explained. Sometimes it’s just BAM “later”. It made me feel lost a few times.

Isabelle’s lack of development: Ok, Izzy is in a tough spot and she has to turn to Gabriel for help. Sure, fine. But then she suddenly decides she needs to be independent of him and make her own way in the world? Okay, I’ll go with it. But she ends up in just another situation where she doesn’t really have any hardships to work through. She’s suddenly got a great apartment and job. Yay? Ultimately, Isabelle never developed very well as a character for me.

Having said that, there were still also plenty of good parts. The sex scenes between the hero and heroine were great. Hot. Gabe is a sweet alpha who wants Izzy to submit in the bedroom. He wants to possess her and I love that about him. He wants to provide and care for her in every way. They’re wonderful together.

DARE TO SURRENDER was a very satisfying short read for me. It hit all my happy buttons for a non-alphahole male and a compliant but spunky female. Was it groundbreaking? No. But it was a great, relaxing read nonetheless.

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Review: The Chalet by Tara Sue Me

The Chalet (The Submissive Trilogy, #3.5)The Chalet by Tara Sue Me

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

A copy of this book was provided by the publisher for an honest review.

This review may contain spoilers for the first three books in the Submissive trilogy. You could try to read The Chalet as a standalone, but I wouldn’t recommend it.

After all the angst and drama in the romance between Abby King and Nathaniel West, it was almost a relief to have this new novella providing a lighter side of their love now that their happy ending was upon them after all that had gone before. THE CHALET begins just after Abby accepted Nathaniel’s marriage proposal and continues through their steamy honeymoon spent at the title location. Here we get to see an easier rapport between the hero and heroine, one where their D/s relationship becomes a more intrinsic part of their marriage even as they work towards less formality in how they interact on that level.

For me, THE CHALET worked quite well as a snapshot of both pre- and post-married bliss for these two characters who have already been through so much already, There wasn’t any real suspense involved, other than whether they could handle not having any sex before their wedding night, and whether impending bad weather would keep them from being able to get to the Swiss chalet for their long-awaited honeymoon. But that was fine by me, and I appreciated this brief but intimate look at how they were able to just relax and enjoy each other without having to worry about some other obstacle threatening their happiness. If you’re a fan of Tara Sue Me’s Submissive trilogy, then THE CHALET is definitely a must read.

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This is what “chilling” means. This is what “chilling” does.

Late last night, I received a long and heartfelt email from a reader who had left a comment months ago on a review of a book that I’d posted earlier this year. I hadn’t liked the book much for very specific reasons, and this reader had agreed in a comment.

But now the reader was asking me to remove that comment entirely because of a fear of being sued, thanks to the recent lawsuit by Ellora’s Cave against the Dear Author blog.

Never mind that the EC suit is ostensibly about DA reporting on possible financial issues at EC. Never mind that this wasn’t even an EC book. Thanks to the chilling environment EC is attempting to foster with their actions, some innocent reader of my tiny blog is worried enough to ask me to remove a comment just in case. And I did.

And now I’m going to go donate more money to the Dear Author defense fund. Because this nonsense has got to stop.

Review: An American Duchess by Sharon Page

An American DuchessAn American Duchess by Sharon Page

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

A copy of this book was provided by the publisher for an honest review.

AN AMERICAN DUCHESS is the latest from Sharon Page, an author I’ve loved and enjoyed for years in all kinds of romance subgenres. It tells the story of a modern young woman whose determination to embrace life in the face of death both attracts and disturbs a more traditional man equally determined to retreat from life for the same reasons.

Zoe Gifford was raised dirt poor and no amount of new money later in life will ever make New York society ever truly accept her or her mother. But that money will be enough to buy a marriage with the younger brother of an English Duke, and release the rest of Zoe’s trust fund so she can finally be free from her family and their expectations. When Zoe first meets her fiance’s older brother, their immediate mutual dislike appears to mask an even stronger physical attraction. But how can she marry the Duke for love when she had no intention of staying married in the first place?

Nigel, Duke of Langford, has survived the Great War at a huge cost to his physical appearance and psychological health. Now all he wants to do is bury himself at his family estate in England and hide away from the rest of the rapidly changing world. His brother’s American fiancee is the perfect example of the type of woman he thinks he can’t abide, yet she’s also compelling in a way that Nigel simply can’t resist. When Nigel discovers his brother’s plan to subvert Zoe’s plans for a brief marriage, the damaged Duke knows that he must claim Zoe for his own. But neither Nigel nor Zoe could have anticipated just how true the words “for better or worse” would be for them after the wedding was over.

Although I enjoyed AN AMERICAN DUCHESS overall, it was still a story that both charmed and infuriated me in equal amounts. The first section of the book starting from when Zoe and Nigel first meet, all the way up to their wedding, could have stood alone as a very good category romance. But this is also the story of what happened after they fell in love and were married, and what happens next is both tragic and confusing. Tragic, because Nigel and Zoe experience the worst sort of loss that two expectant parents can face, and the way they each cope with their grief drives a gigantic wedge between them. Confusing, because in the middle of their personal tragedy, both Nigel and Zoe became involved in additional plotlines that seemed to exist solely to provide an epic Big Misunderstanding that would seemingly force the couple apart permanently.

Of course, it was the time apart that made Nigel and Zoe realize that their love was worth every effort to trust each other with their mutual secrets and to do everything they could to make things work. But it was frustrating to see only hints of what Zoe’s life had been like during their separation, and then see the two of them magically resolve every single difference in a conversation they could have had all along. Even the baby epilogue (cleverly named “The Baby Epilogue”) presents the results of an obviously successful pregnancy with no reference to any difficulties the couple had faced previously in the book. Still, even with all the difficulty I had with the latter half of the book, the intimate scenes between Zoe and Nigel are uniformly great, and their initial romance is so wonderful that I still have to give 4 stars for the book as a whole. I just wish the rest of Nigel and Zoe’s story had lived up to the promise of what had gone before.

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Review: First Match by Lynne Silver

First Match (Coded for Love 0)First Match by Lynne Silver

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

A copy of this book was provided to The Romance Evangelist by the author in exchange for an honest review.

FIRST MATCH is the latest entry in Lynne Silver’s excellent Coded For Love series, and one I’ve been looking forward to reading. It’s essentially the story of a young man looking for his first real world experience outside the closed-off environment where he was raised, and the young woman ready to show him everything he’s been missing. But as a prequel to the entire series, it also fills in details about a key character in the series who has been a mystery until now.

Peter has never questioned his purpose in life or how he was raised to fulfill it, but as a healthy 20 year old male, he’s also longed for a chance to have some unsupervised fun, and maybe even meet a girl. When he and Allison first meet by chance at a local outdoor concert, her carefree personality is just as attractive to him as her physical appearance. Their immediate sexual connection convinces Peter that they are a genetic match, but how can he ask Allison to give up her whole future just to be with him?

Commander Peter “Shep” Shepard is one of my favorite secondary characters in the Coded for Love series, so it was a real treat for me to read some of his story before he was all grown up and helping to run The Program where all the previous books took place. I loved seeing the tender soul behind the tough guy, and the woman who’d helped him become the man we’d already seen. Peter’s love for Allison was genuine, going well beyond the genetic match that bound them together physically, and hers for him was just as strong and real. We see that each was ready to make every sacrifice to be with the other, and how their love never wavered even in the face of eventual separation. Part of me wishes that FIRST MATCH had been longer, but with Peter and Allison’s romance as the focus of the story, the shorter length made sense and worked well to get us to their ultimate happy ending. It’s a wonderful addition to one of my favorite series, and a joy to read.

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Release Week: First Match by Lynne Silver

I’m pleased to welcome Lynne Silver here today to tell us about First Match, the new prequel novella in her long-running Coded For Love series about genetically enhanced soldiers and the women who love them.


First Match is a prequel in the Coded for Love series. If you haven’t read any of the series, here’s a quick highlight on what is Coded for Love:

Engineered with superior strength, agility and acumen, the genetically enhanced soldiers of the top-secret Program do the dangerous assignments no one else can. Now they’re tasked with one additional job. Breed.

But finding and convincing their perfect DNA match they are the right men for the job may be their most dangerous mission to date. And the hottest. Good thing they’re Coded for Love.

If you haven’t read any of the books in the series you won’t know that Shep, AKA Commander Peter Shepard, is the mysterious hard-ass in charge of all the younger soldiers. He acts as a father figure to many of the soldiers and is also their strategic planner. It’s also very briefly mentioned in Book 1, Heated Match, that Shep was the very first genetically enhanced soldier.

So for the prequel, I thought it would be fun to go back to 1980 and tell Shep’s story of what it was like being the first genetically enhanced soldier who’s never before been allowed off campus (Virgin Hero alert!) and how he meets the girl who eventually becomes his match.

My favorite parts about the novella are that he’s a virgin (I love virgin heroes), it’s set in 1980. (Like, totally radical dude), and there’s sex, drugs and rock & roll!

Here’s a taste of First Match:

Peter leaned in until their faces were inches apart. “I am nothing like the other guys you know. If my life were my own, I’d buy you a house in the suburbs and marry you and make babies. But I don’t have that to offer you, and, trust me, you don’t want what I have to offer.”

“Marriage? Babies? We’ve known each other two days. And I’m going to—”

“New York. I know,” he said almost bitterly. “You’re going to be the next Blondie, and I will not stand in your way.”

“Then what do we have?”

“This,” he said, and leaned in to find her mouth and take her in a deep kiss. As soon as his lips touched hers, all her fear and anger morphed quickly into passion, and she tugged him down to deepen the kiss. Just like at the concert, their passion exploded into an inferno. His large body pushed her willingly back into her mattress, and the comforter crushed up between them as an unwanted barrier.

She couldn’t get enough of his mouth and ached for more. “Get under here,” she ordered and tugged the blanket out from between their bodies. She heard him kicking off his boots and she sat up to yank her extra-large T-shirt over her head. Her panties were next. Peter stood next to the bed, ripping off his clothes silently and quickly.


cover

Allison Macclesfield wants—no, needs—to be a rock star, and what better decade to do it in than the ‘80s? Music is her passion. She’s got her future mapped out. Move to New York, find a job, audition to be lead singer in a band.

Plans don’t include giving it all up for Peter Shepard, the sexiest guy she’s ever met. He’s nothing like the guys she’s known. Peter’s life is full of mystery, and though they believe they’re a perfect match, she can have him or her rock star dreams. But not both.

This is a Coded for Love Prequel

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Lynne

About the Author:

Romance author, Lynne Silver, writes the popular Coded for Love series and other hot contemporary romance novels, such as Love, Technically. Before writing romance, she wrote fiction of a different sort, drafting press releases for technology corporations. Washington DC is her home (non) state, where she resides with her husband and two sons. She is represented by literary agent, Jessica Alvarez of Bookends LLC.

Buy Link:  Amazon

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Twitter: @LynneSilver

Blog Tour: Pulled Within by Marni Mann

Pulled Within Cover

Title: Pulled Within (Bar Harbor Series #2)
Author: Marni Mann
Genre: New Adult
Publisher: Booktrope
Release Date: September 12, 2014

Synopsis:
Storms can’t last forever…can they?

For five long years, Rae Ryan has lived in a storm over which she has no control. Little by little, everything has been taken away from her—her job, her relationship, her best friend and her home. Plagued by nightmares and a terrible family secret, she carries her scars as much on the inside as she does on the outside.

Hart Booker, another disappointment from her past, returns to Bar Harbor and shelters her from the rain. He reminds Rae that forgiveness is possible, happiness can be found on the other side of darkness, and beauty rests beneath her scars. But a sinister figure lingering in the background seems determined to pull Rae back into a past she’s been trying to outrun. Can she survive the storm and become part of the light she so desperately desires? Or is she destined to remain Pulled Within?

Recommended for mature audiences due to explicit language, sexual abuse, disturbing situations, and drug use.

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About Marni Mann:
A New Englander at heart, Marni Mann, now a Floridian, is inspired by the sandy beaches and hot pink sunsets of Sarasota. She taps a mainstream appeal and shakes worldwide taboos, taking her readers on a dark and breathtaking journey. When she’s not nose deep in her laptop, she’s scouring for chocolate, traveling, reading, or walking her four-legged children.

Connect with Marni Mann:
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There will be 4 lucky winners in the Pulled Beneath Blog Tour Giveaway!
Grand Prize – Signed Pulled Beneath and Pulled Within paperbacks, $40 Amazon e-giftcard
1st Runner Up: Signed Pulled Within paperback, $20 Amazon e-giftcard
2nd Runner Up: Signed Pulled Within paperback
3rd Runner Up: Pulled Within e-book

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Review: Make It Right by Megan Erickson

Make it Right (Bowler University, #2)Make it Right by Megan Erickson

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

A copy of this book was provided by the publisher for an honest review.

After a year when I’ve declared so many romance tropes and subgenres off my reading list, only to be shown how good they can actually be, it should have been no surprise that I would find a book so wonderful that it redeems the one subgenre I’d sworn off for good: New Adult. But make no mistake, MAKE IT RIGHT by Megan Erickson is the one New Adult romance that I truly believe even those weary of that subgenre could enjoy reading.

Although MAKE IT RIGHT is the second in Megan Erickson’s Bowler University series, it works quite well as a stand-alone story. Starting the series with this second book might even provide an advantage to the new reader, since the story revolves around the redemption of a much reviled character from the first book, MAKE IT COUNT.

Max Payton is infamous among his college friends for the rotten way he treated his last girlfriend, Kat, and how before that, he’d slept with the high school girlfriend of his best friend Alec. Now that Alec and Kat are a couple, Max must content himself with the occasional nightly pickup of whatever women are still willing to throw themselves at him. But when Lea Travers shows up one night at the local convenience store where Max is slightly drunk and feeling down about his life, he realizes that this girl is someone he’d really like to be the true version of himself with, just for once.

Lea doesn’t have the long history with Max from high school like her friends do, but what she’s heard about him is all bad. Still, she sees something genuine behind the jerk facade he puts on for everyone, and as events on campus conspire to bring them together, it’s obvious that the attraction is mutual. What both she and Max eventually discover is a deeper connection that could heal the invisible wounds they both carry inside. But can it survive the mistakes they’ve both made and their unshakable assumptions about loving and being loved?

So many New Adult books make the mistake of fetishizing tragedies in their relatively young characters’ pasts, but in MAKE IT RIGHT, this is never a problem. The perfect tone is set from the start, and what makes us sympathize with the characters is constantly balanced with moments of humor that are never out of place. Max is much more than what he shows to the world, and we see his troubled home life from his point of view, even as its effect on his behavior is made all too obvious as the story unfolds. Lea, too, has endured both physical and psychological blows that would be daunting for a person twice her age. But the histories each brings to this new relationship are presented matter-of-factly, with no superimposed drama to forcibly wring the last bit of sentiment out of readers. This careful balance between lightheartedness and deep emotion is what I find missing in so many New Adult romances, and its presence here is one of the big reasons I loved Max and Lea’s story so much.

The other great feature of MAKE IT RIGHT for me was how the author always kept me guessing as to how events would play out, while always ensuring the necessary groundwork had already been laid for what would happen next. Even when I was able to predict the nature of the inevitable Big Misunderstanding, I was still surprised by the series of events it triggered, leading all the way up to Max and Lea’s happy ending, blowing away every assumption I’d had up until then. Ultimately, neither Max nor Lea should have ever trusted each other to be the person they needed, but when they took that leap of faith, I took it with them, and was rewarded with one of the best romances I’ve read this year.

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Review by Sharon: Reputable Surrender by Riley Murphy

With this review, I am pleased to introduce Sharon as a new reviewer for The Romance Evangelist. Here’s her bio:

Sharon is a middle aged mom who reads every chance she gets. This has led to near disasters for her devices. Most of these near misses involve moisture due to her love of being in the water. Her favorite genres are historical, erotic, romance, fantasy, sci-fi, suspense, travel and young adult. She’ll try anything once and the weirder things twice. You can soak up more of her insanity on Twitter: @Mojitana.


Reputable Surrender (Trust in Me, #5)

Reputable Surrender by Riley Murphy
Series: Trust In Me #5
Sharon’s rating: 3 of 5 stars

A copy of this book was provided to The Romance Evangelist by the author in exchange for an honest review.

REPUTABLE SURRENDER is the final book in the Trust In Me series. You don’t need to read the other books in the series to understand the story.

Michael and Laren unknowingly meet at a BDSM club during a masked event. Michael steps up to disentangle Laren from an aggressive Dom but discovers that she is quite capable of handling things herself. She is feisty and Michael is intrigued. Their brief time together is over quickly as Michael leaves upon discovering her identity. You see, he’s promised a friend that he’d keep his hands off Laren. Since I hadn’t read the previous books I didn’t quite understand what the problem was, but the author did a pretty good job of catching the reader up.

Fast forward to 8 months later and Laren is in command in the boardroom of Michael’s office. She’s still as fiery as ever and Michael just can’t help but want her all over again. Once he gets the okay from his friend, Michael then begins his pursuit of Laren.

Unfortunately for Michael, Laren has a whole host of issues. She’s got a loser brother-in-law who can’t support his family financially. He makes poor investments so she is continually bailing him out because she worries for her sister and nephew. Her ex-boyfriend was an abusive jerk. And, finally, her ex-husband is a vanilla pushover. But Laren is bound and determined to prove herself in her field. She wants to move to the big city and work with her ex-husband at his company.

Enter Michael, the Reputable Dom. I’m not sure what makes him so reputable except that he is financially solvent and follows safe, sane and consensual BDSM rules. But he’s determined to tame Laren, his dragon. He is calm and patient with Laren even when she’s a mess over her family drama. He’s also ready to compromise in his own work life to be with her. But her trust will be hard for Michael to win after all her previous life disappointments.

In the end, those thought of as villains are redeemed and the true offenders are revealed. Through a series of twists and turns these two suffer and grow stronger together. Trust established and the foundation for happiness is laid.

Those who come to this book without reading the other four books in the series may feel a bit left out of the sub plots. And while I enjoyed the book, there were some turns of phrase that took me out of the world the author had crafted.

The relationship between Michael and Laren was steamy and sweet. He is a dominating man who knows that Laren needs someone to share some of her burdens. Michael is more than willing to be that man.

Although Laren was a strong, intelligent business woman, I felt she was portrayed as too much of a doormat in her personal relationships. Her sister and brother-in-law were a particular source of frustration for me as a reader. They were just terrible people. Their redemption at the end didn’t sway my opinion as to their awfulness.

The use of pet names (specifically Honey toast) that Michael used in reference to Laren began to grate on my nerves by the end of the book.

Some parts felt repetitive and uninspired. A few chapters felt over long. A couple scenes didn’t have good flow. A good editor could have solved many of these problems. Overall the book was enjoyable and I would recommend it.

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